Although this conference consumed most of my time for about two weeks last fall, it was so worth it.Plan to spend some time online this fall, and be prepared to LEARN.
Here is some information from the blog:
The K-12 Online Conference invites participation from educators around
the world interested in innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies
can be used to improve learning. This FREE conference is run by
volunteers and open to everyone. The 2008 conference theme is
“Amplifying Possibilities”. This year’s conference begins with a
pre-conference keynote the week of October 13, 2008. The following two
weeks, October 20-24 and October 27-31, forty presentations will be
posted online to the conference blog (this website) for participants to
download and view. Live Events in the form of three “Fireside Chats”
and a culminating “When Night Falls” event will be announced. Everyone
is encouraged to participate in both live events during the conference
as well as asynchronous conversations. More information about podcast channels and conference web feeds is available!
I can't say it like Sheryl. Or Will. Or David. Often, after I've tried to articulate my feelings about how we learn or how we ought to teach, I wish for a do-over. Somehow the passion of what I believe garbles the words, and I come off sounding like some kind of an idiot. That's not to say I can't hold my own in a one-on-one conversation. But in front of a group or on a Skype call, I never seem to lay my argument on the table without babbling or getting overly excited. When asked why we should embed technology into our classes, often what I WISH I had said was…. ...because we can. The answer is simple yet complicated. Why do I believe this? For ten years, I have watched teaching with technology work. From the time I let my sixth-graders first learn to organize their research into visual presentations, or my journalism students play with the design of their newspaper pages to frame the articles on which they had spent extra time because of an audience, I have believed in the power of technology to transform education. Ten years later, and I haven't changed my mind. Today's students gain even more as they find a writing voice on a blog, share ideas with others on a wiki, or practice their language skills on a Voice Thread. That's not to say technology can do it alone. No teacher or administrator worth her salt believes that. Throw tech at a weak teacher, and you have a weak teacher who uses technology ineffectively. Put the power of technology in the hands of a teacher who knows how to engage her students, to create invitations to learn, and you have magic. I am lucky to work in an independent school, where we are not constrained by federal or state guidelines, where our access to information on the internet is essentially open, and where teachers are encouraged to participate in programs such as the Powerful Learning Practice. I am also buoyed by watching our graduates, including my own sons, make their way in the world as confident learners, ready to tackle whatever comes their way–technology or not. I suppose in my own case, that I encouraged my two boys in technology early on didn't hurt. When the first wireless access points appeared years ago, we literally strung them around the house so we could get enough "juice" to login! Not pretty, but it worked. We were chatting online when the web was still only text-based. Today one is employed by a firm in Texas, but works from his home in Virginia. He has had at least four jobs since graduating college (two of them tech start-ups). The other son took his love of art and music and rolled it into working for a video/internet company, where he also telecommutes three days a week. Pretty cool. I want our students to be curious. To question. To collaborate.To take risks, even if it means saying something stupid or failing. Put it out there. Using technology seamlessly to teach and learn brings the world to us and us to the world. Sure, there are definitely times when we say "close the laptops." But more often than not, I say, bring it on. That's what I would have said.
Summer has started, but my mind is still on last Friday.
Our Upper School faculty spent the last day of school beginning to talk about our entire curriculum–how we plan, teach, organize, and assess–and what it all means. We discovered we are more alike than different, but we also found significant variations in our philosophies and approaches. Nevertheless, the conversations were good, and I hope for more during the summer and again next fall. I am so excited to be organizing the Virginia cohort of the PLP for Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson. This Powerful Learning Practice will guide us in this:
An understanding of the transformative potential of Web 2.0 tools in a
global perspective and context and how those potentials can be realized
An understanding of the shifting learning literacies that the 21st
Century demands and how those literacies inform teacher practice.
The development of sustained professional learning networks for team
members to begin experimenting and sharing with other team members and online colleagues from around the world.
Sustainability: The creation of long term plans to move the vision forward in participating districts at the end of the program.
Capacity: An increase in the abilities and resources of individuals, teams and the community to manage change.
I also look to colleagues and friends to help me continue to put into place the foundation that makes teaching successful at FA. For example, Patrick Woessner has been writing much about the process his own school is going through as they begin a tablet program. In this post, he talks about the "search and research process" so necessary to teach our students. Perfect timing for me, as we are having the same discussions.
After a short trip to Quebec next weekend (a combination anniversary/birthday present), I'm looking forward to digging into these ideas, fleshing them out, and seeing how we can clarify our own procedures.
Are you still confused by Twitter? I never seem to explain it well enough to my colleagues. But this video (found on Simon Evans' blog this am) featuring the developer of Twitter is an interesting look at how and why it was started–AND what you can do with it.